NLNG remits $6.5b as tax to FIRS

Former FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler went after tax evaders
Former FIRS executive chairman, Babatunde Fowler
FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler
FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler

The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has remitted more than $6.5 billion in taxes to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) since 2009.

Mr Tony Attah, Managing Director of NLNG, said at the investigative hearing into the proposed sale of the company held by the House of Representatives Committee on Gas Resources, in Abuja.

The hearing was on the need to investigate contract for modification of Escravos Gas Project (EGP) 3B production platform, following the joint ventures agreement between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Chevron Nigeria Limited.

It is also on the investigation into the contract for the upgrade of OML 58 Upgrade 1 and the building of Obote/Ubeta/Rumuji pipeline.

According to him, since the N LNG became a tax-paying company its contributions are helping to build a better Nigeria even though it does more than financial contribution.

“As a result of Nigeria LNG being in existence, we have helped to reduce gas flaring by more than 65 per cent and will continue to work with our upstream suppliers to mop-up more.

“This is because we produce the opportunity as the biggest gas sink for whatever gas is provided in the country. We have the capacity to receive that gas but I think by far the biggest opportunity is in Nigeria’s brand and reputation.

“Before NLNG, Nigeria was actually No. 2 on the undesired league of gas flaring nations in the world.

“But today, we are No. 7 ahead of other countries such as United States, I mean, United States is flaring more than Nigeria,” Attah said.

He added that the company was spending about $120 million on the construction of Bonny-Bono Road which will connect Bonny to Port Harcourt, slated for completion within 40 months.

On the development plans of the company, Attah unveiled the company’s plan to embark on 6 billion US dollars capacity development project for the Train 7, which had potential of creating 12,000 new jobs in the Niger Delta region.

“The big deal for us in Nigeria LNG is growing capacity. Currently we have six Trains with 22 million tonnes per annum capacity which is 7 per cent of global market share of LNG.

“We want to grow back to the 10 per cent which was what it was before. So we want to grow by about 35 per cent capacity before Australia.

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“We want to grow by about 355 capacity, that will come via Train 7 project for which we have commenced the engineering design and we are looking forward to take a final investment decision not too long.’’

He also said NLNG had remitted more than 100 billion US dollars’ as revenue to the coffers of Federal Government and other equity holders in the company.

NLNG CEO, Tony Attah
NLNG CEO, Tony Attah

According to Attah, Federal Government through Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which owned 49 per cent equity got more than $15 billion dividends.

He said that this positioned the company as the singular highest tax paying company in Nigeria and indeed Africa.

Attah added that other shareholders such as Shell Gass BV owned 25.6 per cent US dollars, Total owned 15 per cent while ENI International owned 10.4 per cent.

On the company’s efforts towards reducing gas flaring in the country, Attah said that a lot of its contributions to the country is monetary, adding that more than $100 billion revenue and about $15 billion dividends had gone to the Federal Government directly.

Contributing, Rep, Randoff Brown (PDP-Rivers) noted that NLNG was the most significant arrow-head of the Federal Government’s quest to eliminate gas flaring and derives value from the country’s 187 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves.

“NLNG has covered about 119 Bcm (million standard cubic metres) or 4.2tcf (trillion cubic feet) of associated gas to export as LNG and natural gas liquids thus helping to reduce gas flaring by upstream companies from over 60 per cent to less than 25 per cent.

“NLNG mops up gas that would otherwise be flared, thus making significant contributions to the nation’s income, delivering in the last 13 years over 13 billion dollars on gas purchases from oil producing companies, of which the Federal Government of Nigeria owns 55 per cent – 60 per cent CIT and other taxes,” he said.

Also speaking, Rep. Diri Douye (PDP-Bayelsa), who sponsored the motion on the need to investigate the contract for the modification of the EGP 3B Production platform following the joint venture agreement between Federal Government, NNPC and Chevron Nigeria Limited, frowned at the delay in the completion of the project.

According to him, modification work on all the seven platforms was meant to have been completed by April 31, 2013 at the rate of 64,179,198 US dollars but it was eventually concluded in 2016 at a reviewed cost of 192.7 million dollars.

“The implication being that, whereas, it was awarded the contract on the basis of being the lowest bid it eventually became the highest bid.

“It is also alleged that Prime Source Limited (PSL) was poorly resourced in manpower, logistics, equipment and funding to undertake a job of such description.

“It is also instructive to note that PSL bid for the contract alongside a consortium, i.e Prime Source-Hensteel SOMECO, however, the contract was solely awarded in the name of PSL,’’he said.

While ruling,chairman, House Committee on Gas Resources, Rep. Frederick Agbedi, tasked the company on the need to replicate its model for the country to take its rightful position in the global market and the implementation of developmental projects.

“We join the elders of the Niger Delta, and we are not in support of any contemplation to sell off NLNG.

“The shares held by NNPC on behalf of the country, the people of Nigeria have vested interests in the company, so they are not shares that any government can take in whatever guise.

“You don’t play politics with such investment even if that is the only revenue we can rely on as a nation.

“On that note, the committee will step down the motion for the committee’s consideration. On the other two motions, we are frustrated by the position of the NNPC,” Agbedi said.

Agbedi then expressed concern over the absence of Mr Maikanti Baru, the NNPC Group Managing Director at the hearing.

The committee, however, resolved to adjourn sine die, till the NNPC helmsman appears in person to respond to queries on the 114.580 million US dollars variation on the modification of the EGP 3B Production platform.